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Dorothy parkers use of humor satire and sarcasm in her poetry

Kinney Simply put, I want to argue that what appears monotonal in [Dorothy Parker's] work is actually a compound of confused or complicated voicings; her work is, nearly always, dialogic and polyvocal. It refuses to be complacent, dismissive, or ignorant; it admits complexity and irresolution. Throughout her life, Parker's social disaffection and disenfranchisement -- her material dispossession, her own hereditary disinheritance -- brought to her observations both a passion and a need that turned her understanding into defensive postures, such as cynicism, or into metaphorical directions that subtly underscored what Parker could not admit more openly.

I see this polyvocalism in her sharply chiseled poetry that severely and insistently claims its classical and formal roots so as to elevate it, deeply grounded in time and place, out of time and place altogether; others have seen it more quickly in her fiction.

Is it generous or guilt-ridden? Clearly we cannot ever know for certain -- perhaps Parker herself did not know -- but the richness of tone and of possibility makes her work haunting. These are personal and intimate matters, but they are not small matters. Nothing in Parker ever is, regardless of how it seems.

Colleen Breese The speakers in [Parker's] poems are mainly urban sophisticates, and her pages are fraught with images of isolation, degradation, loneliness, and depression; everything Parker touched is transformed by her narrative idiom. No matter the situation she describes, she involves readers, makes them listen to the peculiarly American and utterly contemporary voices of her speakers and narrators.

  1. Parker's poetry is mostly an attempt to use her wit as a defense—first against pain, then despair. Her personal life, meanwhile, was a mess.
  2. Throughout her life, Parker's social disaffection and disenfranchisement -- her material dispossession, her own hereditary disinheritance -- brought to her observations both a passion and a need that turned her understanding into defensive postures, such as cynicism, or into metaphorical directions that subtly underscored what Parker could not admit more openly.
  3. Many of Parker's poems use elements found in the sentimental tradition.
  4. Kaufman, and Franklin Pierce Adams, became famous when newspaper columnists reported the activities and discussions at the famed Algonquin Hotel debates. No matter the situation she describes, she involves readers, makes them listen to the peculiarly American and utterly contemporary voices of her speakers and narrators.
  5. There were alarming glimpses, no more than a series of snapshots, of the tragedies that would be recognized by twentieth century women as peculiarly their own. Colleen Breese The speakers in [Parker's] poems are mainly urban sophisticates, and her pages are fraught with images of isolation, degradation, loneliness, and depression; everything Parker touched is transformed by her narrative idiom.

It is her style, her art, her many-sided humor, her irony, her sarcasm, her tenderness, her pathos that readers pay attention to. Parker's attitude toward human folly was satiric; her poems mock and undermine as they unfold through repetitions that underscore and heighten her satirical intent. By making readers pay attention to who is speaking and what the implications of these messages are, Parker forces reader to read behind and between the lines of her deceptively simple situations and messages in order to appreciate fully and understand her art.

What is the irony in the poem One Perfect Rose?

The targets of her satire are timeless too: Her poetic devices are of venerable origins and yet still fresh and vital: The hallmarks of Parker's poems -- sympathy and compassion, compression, impeccable grammar and syntax, outstanding diction, double voices and double consciousness, feminism, criticism and self-criticism, subversion and subtext, reversal, and dissection of social manners -- point not only to the seriousness and quality of Dorothy Parker's work, but also to its importance as timeless social commentary and as insight about women and men.

That Parker was a feminist is also undeniable; her voice is confined for the most part to women and what was important to them, yet her speakers do not talk about the home -- in a time when the home was often their only choice.

Parker places women in classic female situations, then subverts them; her satire occurs because we recognize the futility of the situation, not that of the speaker.

But more important, she breaks up the loving dyad of male and female through the implied intervention of her audience, for whom the joke is staged.

Dorothy Parker’s stunning wit and tragic life

Thus "triangulated," the lovers lose the psychodynamic logic supporting their lopsided interrelation; humor about love -- not the dramatic irony attending the spectacle of bunglers but the acerbic wit of a sophisticated lover-narrator -- has the power to rupture the magic circle of intersubjectivity by constructing its audience as a complicitous third party to the ridicule of one lover the man by the other the woman.

New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. Rhonda Pettit For obvious reasons, Dorothy Parker's poetry has been appreciated for its humor, its modern satirical view toward romantic love and heterosexual relationships.

Her work is also associated with a New York style of urban sophistication. Thanks to the recovery and delineation by feminist scholars of writings by women in the nineteenth century, particularly those writings in the sentimental tradition, we can now read Parker's poetry in a much broader literary and cultural context. Many of Parker's poems use elements found in the sentimental tradition: Her religious poems and some of her poems about death do not close with the kind of clever epigram for which she is famous.

Other poems use concision, suggestion rather than explanation, decadent imagery, and an urbane, sophisticated attitude to pull away from or critique nineteenth-century literary and cultural values.

One of her earliest poems, "Any Porch" 1921illustrates this collision of values in its use of fragmented, disembodied voices contained in rhymed and metered stanzas. Parker's poetry has been ignored by historians of modernism because of its content, form, and publishing venue mass circulation magazines and newspapers rather than the literary "little magazines".

She preferred formal verse; the only times she used free verse were to mock the form and in her Hate Songs. Thus, she did not appear to be experimenting with or developing a new form.

Dorothy Parker Parker, Dorothy (Poetry Criticism) - Essay

If we consider, however, that modernism embodies more than just technical experimentation, we can appreciate the collision of values found in Parker's poetry for what they are. Dorothy Parker is an important transitional figure in both modernism and the tradition of women's poetry. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2000. Marion Meade [By 1925, t]he content of [Dorothy Parker's] verse began to change drastically, as she now marched past her readers a procession of macabre images not generally associated with popular humor.

  1. Throughout her life, Parker's social disaffection and disenfranchisement -- her material dispossession, her own hereditary disinheritance -- brought to her observations both a passion and a need that turned her understanding into defensive postures, such as cynicism, or into metaphorical directions that subtly underscored what Parker could not admit more openly. While her husband was away for two years' military service, Parker's whirlwind social life led her to speakeasies and parties in uptown apartments where she became well-acquainted with Ernest Hemingway, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, and other literary figures.
  2. As she grew older, she disowned quotes attributed to her, and turned her famous wit onto herself.
  3. Her Jewish father had been a successful garment manufacturer, but by his death in 1913 the business was failing, leaving Parker to support herself, first as a dancing school pianist and then in the brittle, sophisticated world of New York magazine publishing. She preferred formal verse; the only times she used free verse were to mock the form and in her Hate Songs.

Satin gowns turn into shrouds, decomposing corpses clinically observe the activity of worms, the living dead ghoulishly deck themselves with graveyard flowers. There were alarming glimpses, no more than a series of snapshots, of the tragedies that would be recognized by twentieth century women as peculiarly their own: Her verse began to acknowledge the timeless subject of female rage. What Fresh Hell Is This?